Mission Areas

Natural Hazards

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Costs and consequences of natural hazards can be enormous; each year more people and infrastructure are at risk. We develop and apply hazards science to help protect U.S. safety, security, and economic well being. These scientific observations, analyses, and research are crucial for the Nation to become more resilient to natural hazards.

Read Our Science Strategy
Filter Total Items: 55
USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Our satellite remote sensing research and applications are essential for providing required data for mapping fire fuels, assessing fire effects, monitoring fire danger, and measuring progress in implementing the National Fire Plan. Land management agencies, scientific communities, and citizenry affected by wildland fires can benefit from our work.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

The Astrogeology Science Center's mission includes producing planetary maps and cartographic products which reveal topography, geology, topology, image mosaics and more, all made available to the international scientific community and the general public as a national resource.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

ShakeOut, an scenario model was developed to understand the impacts and implications of a hypothetical but realistic 7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault. Pairing robust science with state-of-the-art modeling and visualization tools, ShakeOut is an accessible and effective message to enhance community preparedness and resilience to earthquakes.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

MTBS is a multi-year project designed to map the burn severity and perimeters of fire across all lands of the United States for the period spanning 1984 through 2010. The data generated by MTBS will be used to identify national trends in burn severity and evaluate the effectiveness of the National Fire Plan and Healthy Forest Restoration Act.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

An existing technological capability (not yet implemented in CA) for providing a few seconds of advance notification before arrival of earthquake-generated seismic waves causing ground shaking, with current efforts underway to move forward with providing users with the means to utilize the system for warning and preparedness action plans.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Post-fire landslides are particularly hazardous because they can occur with little warning, can exert great force on objects in their paths, can strip vegetation, block drainage ways, damage structures, and endanger human life. Our focus is to develop tools and methods for the prediction of post-wildfire landslide activity and hazard delineation.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

What persuades someone to heed a debris flow or wildfire evacuation warning? SAFRR partners in emergency management are especially interested in the results of this study, now underway with Columbia's Center for Research on Environmental Decisions.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Ecosystems throughout the western U.S. are often dependent on a particular fire regime to reduce hazardous fuels and rejuvenate forests or even guide evolution of plant life and regulate ecological communities. Today fire’s role is more complicated. For example, fire can favor invasive plants and these invaders may, in turn, alter the fire regime.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

SAFRR is now a partner in the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience project, a 3-year pilot collaboration to promote community resilience in the face of a wide range of public health emergencies.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Organisms have different abilities to adapt to disturbances. Some disturbances can be catastrophic to one species and inconsequential to another. Our Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC) scientists are studying the effects of disturbances on species, biogeochemistry, water quality, habitat connectivity and landscape patterns.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Bringing together seismologists, emergency managers, risk communication researchers, and design professionals to develop a framework for earthquake probability messages for both emergency managers and the general public.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

The Earthquake Hazards Program monitors and reports earthquakes, assesses earthquake impacts and hazards, and researches the causes and effects of earthquake.

Filter Total Items: 42
USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

Astro Web Maps – Our Web Mapping Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS)

Astro Web Maps – Our Web Mapping Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS) are based on Open Geospatial Consortium standards and allow capable mapping clients to view full-resolution planetary mosaicked Basemaps. Services are available for community use and are critical for our Planetary Nomenclature, Planetary Geologic Mapping and PILOT sites

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

Map-a-Planet 2

Allows existing map-projected (derived) image products to be re-projected, stretched, clipped, and converted into a variety of useful formats. Version 2 allows us to quickly add new mosaics and potentially many other derived science products for conversion and download.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

GDAL – The Geospatial Data Abstraction Library

GDAL is a translator library for raster geospatial data formats that is released under an X/MIT style Open Source license by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. As a library, it presents a single abstract data model for all supported formats. It also comes with a variety of useful commandline utilities for data translation and processing.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

Real-time Earthquake Information

Get real-time earthquake notifications sent to you using a number of popular mediums: Feeds, Email, Twitter, etc…

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Technology and Tools

Links to a variety of Coastal and Marine Geology mapping technologies, data modeling and visualization tools.

Latest Earthquakes Interface
March 4, 2016

Latest Earthquakes Map and List

View recent events or search for past earthquakes. Optimized for mobile and desktop.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Research Data and Products

USGS earthquake data including real-time and historic earthquake catalogs, GIS data, hazards, and more.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Software for Landslide Assessments and Modeling

USGS software for landslide assessments and modeling that include SLAMMER, TRIGRS, PTCOUNT and more.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Hazards Tools

A quick-reference selection of Natural Hazards resources, including links available through the USGS and products or publications

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

International Charter

It aims at providing a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to those affected by natural or manmade disasters through Authorized Users. Each member agency has committed resources to support the provisions of the Charter and thus is helping to mitigate the effects of disasters on human life and property.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

DOI Emergency Management

DOI has a department-wide policy relating to emergency management that can be referenced in the Department's Manual in Series: 41-EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ‎(Parts 900-910)‎.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Station Information and Operations

Zoom in on an area to view all seismic network operation stations on the interactive map.

Filter Total Items: 59
Year Published: 2014

Using science to strengthen our Nation's resilience to tomorrow's challenges: understanding and preparing for coastal impacts

Hurricane Sandy caused unprecedented damage across some of the most densely populated coastal areas of the northeastern United States. The costly, landscape-altering destruction left in the wake of this storm is a stark reminder of our Nation’s need to become more resilient as we inevitably face future coastal hazards. As our Nation recovers from...

Simmons, Dale L.; Andersen, Matthew E.; Dean, Teresa A.; Focazio, Michael J.; Fulton, John W.; Haines, John W.; Mason, Jr., Robert R.; Tihansky, Ann B.; Young, John A.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Using science to strengthen our Nation's resilience to tomorrow's challenges: understanding and preparing for coastal impacts; 2014; FS; 2014-3062; Simmons, Dale L.; Andersen, Matthew E.; Dean, Teresa A.; Focazio, Michael J.; Fulton, John W.; Haines, John W.; Mason, Robert R., Jr.; Tihansky, Ann B.; Young, John A.

Year Published: 2014

Modification of the Quaternary stratigraphic framework of the inner-continental shelf by Holocene marine transgression: An example offshore of Fire Island, New York

The inner-continental shelf off Fire Island, New York was mapped in 2011 using interferometric sonar and high-resolution chirp seismic-reflection systems. The area mapped is approximately 50 km long by 8 km wide, extending from Moriches Inlet to Fire Island Inlet in water depths ranging from 8 to 32 m. The morphology of this inner-...

Schwab, William C.; Baldwin, Wayne E.; Denny, Jane F.; Hapke, Cheryl J.; Gayes, Paul T.; List, Jeffrey; Warner, John C.
William C. Schwab, Wayne E. Baldwin, Jane F. Denny, Cheryl J. Hapke, Paul T. Gayes, Jeffrey H. List, John C. Warner, Modification of the Quaternary stratigraphic framework of the inner-continental shelf by Holocene marine transgression: An example offshore of Fire Island, New York, Marine Geology, Volume 355, 1 September 2014, Pages 346-360, ISSN 0025-3227, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2014.06.011.

Year Published: 2014

ShakeAlert—An earthquake early warning system for the United States west coast

Earthquake early warning systems use earthquake science and the technology of monitoring systems to alert devices and people when shaking waves generated by an earthquake are expected to arrive at their location. The seconds to minutes of advance warning can allow people and systems to take actions to protect life and property from destructive...

Burkett, Erin R.; Given, Douglas D.; Jones, Lucile M.
Burkett, E.R., Given, D.G., and Jones, L.M., 2014, ShakeAlert—An earthquake early warning system for the United States West Coast (ver. 1.2, February 2017): U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2014–3083, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20143083.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: coastal topographic and bathymetric data to support hurricane impact assessment and response

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Stronko, Jakob M.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: coastal topographic and bathymetric data to support hurricane impact assessment and response; 2013; FS; 2013-3099; Stronko, Jakob M.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts of environmental quality and persisting contaminant exposure

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Caskie, Sarah A.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts of environmental quality and persisting contaminant exposure; 2013; FS; 2013-3091; Caskie, Sarah A.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts to coastal ecosystems, habitats, and fish and wildlife

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Campbell, Warren H.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts to coastal ecosystems, habitats, and fish and wildlife; 2013; FS; 2013-3096; Campbell, Warren H.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: coastal impact assessments

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Stronko, Jakob M.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: coastal impact assessments; 2013; FS; 2013-3090; Stronko, Jakob M.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts of storm surge, including disturbed estuarine and bay hydrology

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Caskie, Sarah A.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts of storm surge, including disturbed estuarine and bay hydrology; 2013; FS; 2013-3092; Caskie, Sarah A.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: New York

Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. More than one-half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast, and this number is increasing. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is one of the largest providers of geologic and hydrologic information in the world. Federal, State, and...

Ransom, Clarice N.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: New York; 2013; FS; 2013-3089; Ransom, Clarice N.

Year Published: 2013

U.S. Geological Survey natural hazards science strategy: promoting the safety, security, and economic well-being of the Nation

The mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in natural hazards is to develop and apply hazard science to help protect the safety, security, and economic well-being of the Nation. The costs and consequences of natural hazards can be enormous, and each year more people and infrastructure are at risk. USGS scientific research—founded on...

Holmes, Robert R.; Jones, Lucile M.; Eidenshink, Jeffery C.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Kirby, Stephen H.; Love, Jeffrey J.; Neal, Christina A.; Plant, Nathaniel G.; Plunkett, Michael L.; Weaver, Craig S.; Wein, Anne; Perry, Suzanne C.
U.S. Geological Survey natural hazards science strategy: promoting the safety, security, and economic well-being of the Nation; 2013; CIR; 1383-F; Holmes, Robert R., Jr.; Jones, Lucile M.; Eidenshink, Jeffery C.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Kirby, Stephen H.; Love, Jeffrey.J.; Neal, Christina A.; Plant, Nathaniel G.; Plunkett, Michael L.; Weaver, Craig S.; Wein, Anne; Perry, Suzanne C.

Year Published: 2013

Operational Group Sandy technical progress report

Hurricane Sandy made US landfall near Atlantic City, NJ on 29 October 2012, causing 72 direct deaths, displacing thousands of individuals from damaged or destroyed dwellings, and leaving over 8.5 million homes without power across the northeast and mid-Atlantic. To coordinate federal rebuilding activities in the affected region, the President...

Attribution: Natural Hazards
Operational Group Sandy technical progress report; 2013; Federal Government Series; Department of the Interior Strategic Science Group

Year Published: 2012

Relative azimuth inversion by way of damped maximum correlation estimates

Horizontal seismic data are utilized in a large number of Earth studies. Such work depends on the published orientations of the sensitive axes of seismic sensors relative to true North. These orientations can be estimated using a number of different techniques: SensOrLoc (Sensitivity, Orientation and Location), comparison to synthetics (Ekstrom...

Ringler, A.T.; Edwards, J.D.; Hutt, C.R.; Shelly, F.
Relative azimuth inversion by way of damped maximum correlation estimates; 2012; Article; Journal; Computers & Geosciences; Ringler, A.T.; Edwards, J.D.; Hutt, C.R.; Shelly, F.

Filter Total Items: 1,334
Photograph of a flooded road in Olympic National Park, Washington, showing a person walking in the shallow water.
November 24, 2017
Flooding on a road in Olympic National Park, Washington, on November 24, 2017.
A series of images from various sources of shaded-relief topography show the progression of the Mud Creek landslide area.
November 6, 2017
A series of images from various sources of shaded-relief topography show the progression of the Mud Creek landslide area, from 2010 through October 12, 2017. Sources: lidar data from 2010 lidar data from 2016 structure-from-motion (SfM), March 8, 2017 SfM, May 19, 2017 SfM, May 27, 2017 SfM, May 31, 2017 SfM, June 13, 2017 SfM, June 26, 2017 SfM, October 12, 2017
October 20, 2017
An introduction to GIS data using ArcMap 10.1 and higher; intended for planetary geologic mappers.
3D map of Mud Creek slide derived from video footage collected by drone on October 12, 2017.
October 12, 2017
Video shot from drones yields details about changing landslide on California’s Big Sur coast On October 12, USGS drones collected video footage of the Mud Creek landslide, which buried California State Highway 1 under a third-of-a-mile-wide mass of rock and dirt on May 20. USGS scientists have been monitoring the slide by transforming photos shot from an airplane into 3D maps. They applied the...
Erosion forecast map for Northern Gulf sandy shorelines
October 6, 2017
Tropical Storm Nate's predicted effect on Northern Gulf sandy shorelines, based on landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, is shown at three intensities. Outer band: Dune erosion. Middle band: Dune overwash. Inner band: Dune inundation, with potential flooding behind the dune. Credit: USGS Coastal Change Hazard Portal.
2017 (approx.)
Before a hurricane, USGS Scientists undertake a data collection effort of a grand scale. They install a temporary mobile network of sensors along the coasts to collect additional data on the intensity of storm surge, one of the most dangerous elements of a hurricane. This effort provides critical information that allows various USGS partners and emergency responders to make better informed...
September 29, 2017
Landsat 8 imagery shows the change in vegetation on Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface. USGS EROS Center ( https://eros.usgs.gov/ )
3 men leaning over big yellow metal grab bucket on the deck of a ship. Dark sediment is visible inside bucket
September 28, 2017
USGS research geophysicist Danny Brothers (right) and colleagues examine the surface of a sediment grab sample just pulled onto the deck of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship John P. Tully . The sample was collected from the top of a mud volcano north of the border between southeast Alaska and British Columbia. Expedition scientists are investigating the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault to better...
boom & pulley w/ long slender equipment hanging over side of ship w/ 3 people in hard hats & life preservers standing at rail
September 20, 2017
Scientists prepare to lower a piston corer off Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, to sample seafloor sediment near the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault. Expedition scientists are studying layers of sediment in the cores they collected to identify and determine ages of past earthquakes along the fault. This information will help them assess future threats to coastal communities in the U.S. and Canada.
Two women stand at plywood table on which rest three long plastic tubes full of dark seafloor sediment.
September 17, 2017
Mary McGann (left, USGS) and Rachel Lauer (University of Calgary) sample pore fluids from sediment cores collected aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship John P. Tully along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault offshore of southeast Alaska. Expedition scientists will use their findings to better understand the history of the fault and the hazards it poses to coastal communities in the U.S. and...
September 15, 2017
Hurricane Irma's full force hit the small island of Barbuda, damaging estimated 95% of structures. At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface. USGS EROS Center ( https://eros.usgs.gov/ )
Filter Total Items: 271
Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands
October 25, 2017

Coral reef expert Caroline Rogers was the only USGS employee in the Virgin Islands when the Category 5 storm hit.

Drill Rig at the Mt. Elbert Test Site
October 20, 2017

In the past decade, the development of the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and other shales has dominated the national consciousness regarding natural gas. But in Alaska, another form of natural gas has been the focus of research for decades—methane hydrate.

3 men leaning over big yellow metal grab bucket on the deck of a ship. Dark sediment is visible inside bucket
October 19, 2017

An international team of scientists just finished probing the depths of the Pacific Ocean offshore of Alaska and British Columbia, to better understand the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault. During the past century, the 700-mile-long fault has generated at least half a dozen major earthquakes, and future shocks threaten coastal communities in both the United States and Canada.

Drop and Cover Photo
October 18, 2017

Do you know what to do the moment the ground starts shaking? Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

USGS' Owen Brenner wading with GPS backpack
October 10, 2017

A study finds that although the “wilderness breach” created by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 has reached a relatively stable size and location, the channel and shoals will keep changing in response to weather. Related research shows the breach isn’t likely to increase storm-tide flooding in Great South Bay.

Tropical Strom Nate
October 6, 2017

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2 pm Saturday, October 7. For the latest graphic showing USGS predictions of the sandy coastal areas likely to be affected by Hurricane Nate, click here.

More information about USGS science in response to Hurricane Nate is at www.usgs.gov/nate

A screenshot of the Coastal Change hazards portal showing erosion, overwash and inundation potentials along the east coast
September 26, 2017

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Maria, visit the USGS Hurricane Maria page at https://www.usgs.gov/maria.

A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge on a bridge in Norfolk, Virginia.
September 22, 2017

As thousands of people remain displaced by or are recovering from one of the four hurricanes that have affected the United States the past month, the U.S. Geological Survey is in the field providing science that will help with recovery from these historic hurricanes and with preparing for the next storm.

A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge on a bridge in Norfolk, Virginia.
September 22, 2017

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Jose, visit the USGS Hurricane Jose page at https://www.usgs.gov/jose.

Screenshot Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake in Mexico
September 19, 2017

The USGS has up-to-date details on the September 19, 2017 event.

A USGS specialist installs a storm-tide sensor in Massachusetts before Hurricane Jose's arrival.
September 19, 2017

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Jose, visit the USGS Hurricane Jose page at https://www.usgs.gov/jose.